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Melbourne Primary School

Melbourne Primary School Melbourne Primary School

Phonics and early Reading



From September 2021 we will be using the government validated systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP) called ‘Little Wandle: Letters & Sounds Revised’. The programme is designed to teach children to read from Reception to Year 2, using the skill of decoding and blending sounds together to form words. “The Little Wandle programme provides a full progression through all commonly occurring GPCs* (sounds), working from simple to more complex, and taking into account the frequency of their occurrence in the most commonly encountered words.” 

Please access the Little Wandle website (link below) to find more information. The 'For parents' section provides videos of how to pronounce the Phase 2 and Phase 3 sounds and how we teach the reading of words.


At Melbourne Primary School, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers, and we believe that Phonics provides the foundation in supporting children to develop these skills in order for this to become achievable.

Recently, the government decided to reinvest in the widely used Phonics programme, Letters and Sounds, in order to create a restructured and fully resourced version of this. To keep within the recommended government guidelines, and to ensure we maintain the highest standards of education at Melbourne Primary School, we have made some changes with regards to Phonics and Early Reading across the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1.

We start teaching Phonics in nursery and begin to follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression in Reception, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.

As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At Melbourne Primary School we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.

The teaching of Phonics is fast-paced, and we encourage all children to actively participate in each lesson, and by encouraging the children to take ownership of their learning we are continuously striving for excellence.

At Melbourne Primary School we ensure that we provide all children with the fundamental skills that will enable them to be confident and fluent readers.


At Melbourne Primary, we believe that reading and writing is an essential life skill and we are dedicated to enabling our children to become enthused, engaged and successful lifelong readers and writers. To support this, we practise the ‘Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revised’ scheme and implement the following:

Foundations for phonics in Preschool

We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include:

  • sharing high-quality stories and poems
  • learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
  • activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
  • attention to high-quality language.

We ensure nursery children are well-prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.

Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1

We teach phonics for up to 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. 

· Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins early in the  Autumn term.

· We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:

  • Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
  • Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.

Daily Phonics lessons in Year 2

Due to COVID 19 we have adapted our current Phonics programme to meet the needs of the children.

· In the Autumn Term we teach phonics for up to 30 minutes a day with an emphasis on revising Phase 5 from Year 1 Summer Term planning. This prepares the children for the re-scheduled Screening Test taking place in November.

Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read

· Any child who needs additional practice has daily keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.

· We timetable daily Phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 or 3 who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics Screening Check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the keep-up resources at pace.

· If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. 

Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week in Early Years and Key Stage 1

We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week. These:

  • are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children
  • use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge (Big Cat Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revised)
  • are monitored by the class teacher, who rotates and works with each group on a regular basis.


·Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:

  • decoding
  • prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
  • comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.

In Reception these sessions start in Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.

Additional Phonics and Reading support for vulnerable children

· Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 receive additional Phonics ‘keep up’ sessions either on a 1:1 basis or in a small group.

· Children who are receiving additional phonics ‘keep-up’ sessions read their reading practice book to an adult daily.

· In Years 2 and 3, we continue to teach reading in the same way as Key Stage 1, for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.

· Children across Years 4 – 6 who need additional support will have 1:1 reading with decodable books at least three times a week.

Ensuring consistency and pace of progress

· All teachers and support staff have received  the  Little Wandle training to ensure we have the same expectations of progress when teaching early reading.

· We all use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.

· Weekly content grids map each element of new learning to each day, week and term for the duration of the programme.

· Lesson templates, prompt cards and how to videos ensure teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.

· The Early Reading Leader and English Leader use the audit and prompt cards to regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and gaps in learning.


By the time children leave Melbourne Primary School they are competent and fluent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a passion for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books. At Melbourne Primary School, we believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond and is embedded across the entire curriculum for our children.


Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.

· Assessment for learning is used:

o daily within class to identify children needing Keep-up support

o weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.

· Summative assessment is used:

o every six weeks to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the Keep-up support that they need.

o by SLT and scrutinised through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker, to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.

Statutory assessment

· Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.

Ongoing assessment for catch-up

· Children in Year 2 to 6 are assessed through their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment, STARs reading assessment and the half-termly ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ summative assessments.


Would you like more information?

During the Autumn term we hold an introductory workshop for Reception parents, together with a range of phonics ideas, to illustrate first-hand how children are taught to read and write in the early years of school. Further workshops are also held throughout the school focusing on the key priorities for reading.

Melbourne Primary School
Melbourne, York, East Riding of Yorkshire
YO42 4QE
01759 318369
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